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Letting Go for a better future

To all my readers - Here comes a wish and prayer that you are healthy wherever you are! May the world wake up to a better sunrise tomorrow. Here is a lovely song from AR Rehman.

Familiarity is a strange thing. It makes you feel safe. But keeps you where you are.

When leaders decide to move to newer roles (higher, lateral or join new companies), there is a sort of a gravitational pull of what they have today that makes the transition bitter sweet.

Many of them have invested a lot of their effort in setting their organisations ground up. They have burnt midnight oil in scaling it. They know their customer organisations inside out. They have created great outcomes. The teams that they built really like them to be there forever.

Due to the good work that they do, organisations promote them, or move them to lateral roles. It could also happen that the organisation hires an external hire from outside to take on a new role.

Then comes the transition period. On one hand there is an unknown, uncertain future that they are moving towards. On the other they have to let go of what they have today. This creates tension and stress for the leader.

How does one sail this transition period smoothly?

Whenever I think of letting go- the image that comes to my mind is of “Spiderman” :-)

For those of you wondering what Spiderman has to do with letting go (ya I am crazy) - you know, when he moves, there is a string that comes out of his hand, it latches on to a building/ big structure. He swings towards that building and about 3/4 of the swing, he pulls out another string out of his other hand which latches on to the next. Here is the crazy part. He lets go of the first string when he swings with the other. If he does'nt do that - he hangs in mid air, stuck.

Whether you think you are Spiderman or not, the below tips will help you have a smooth sail during transitions.

  1. Acknowledge, Appreciate, Celebrate what you have: Sometimes in our busy schedule, we forget to feel gratitude for all that we have and we don’t celebrate enough. If you have not yet done so - express gratitude and celebrate as much as possible with all stakeholders that made such a wonderful run for you. This does 2 things - you feel high and people around you will remember you longer. Don’t wait for the farewell parties to do them.

  2. Dissociation - This is my favourite NLP technique and all good decision makers unconsciously use it. In simple terms, it’s about taking a third person perspective that removes attachment to emotions and the stories we tell ourselves. For eg, while coaching my clients, I ask the question, if you are a bird sitting on that tree and watching this, what would you observe about the situation ? If you were to float above the earth and look down what would you see? If you are watching a movie where your career story is getting played with you as the lead character, what do you see as an observer sitting in the theatre?

  3. Visualisation - Visualisation is seeing oneself in the future of one's making - lets say you are visualising yourself performing the new job role extremely well. You watch yourself first dissociated (you see yourself in the visual) where you are defining the vision/direction, and are motivated to jump into the new role. This will make you feel comfortable because you won’t feel the feelings of uncertainty and ambiguity associated with the new role. Whenever you feel, you are ready - you need to become the role in the visual so that the positive aspects get integrated (Association).

  4. Stress - Whatever you do, the brain will always make you cautious when you take a new path. Its like driving - you take a road X, you know where the signals are, where the by-lanes are, where blind spots might arise. Suddenly if the road is closed and you are taking a new road Y, you will be more mindful of how you are driving. It’s the newness factor which makes us become more present. So some stress is expected and is good when you move roles. But if you notice yourself always thinking / talking about the greatness of previous role and how bad your current role is, for months on end - may be you need to ask help of a coach who can help with the transition.

  5. Break - When you can negotiate your way through a break in between, nothing like it. Taking yourself off your past role, will help you move on to the new one.

All transitions need not be hard. You can navigate them in a way that leads to your career growth.

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